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What changed with Armstrong Post-Cancer?

Aug 31, 2009
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I know this topic is just begging for a troll war, but it would be nice to hear some considered answers.

I think it's generally agreed that Lance was a pretty good one-day rider before his bout with cancer and that he was unlikely to win a grand tour. Based on Betsy Andreu and others, it is has also been established that pre-cancer he was on a pretty intense regimen of EPO, HGH, Steroids, Testosterone, etc. In spite of all this doping, he was still a non-factor in the grand tours. It has also been established that he didn't really lose as much (or any) of the weight that he once claimed to lose during his fight with cancer.

So the question is, what did Lance start doing differently from 1999 on? It can't just be doping with all the same stuff he used pre-cancer because it didn't really work then (beyond winning a few stages). Was he not doing blood transfusions pre-'99 and that put him over the edge? I don't remember hearing if that was something he did pre-'99 or not. Is there something else out there he (and Ferrari) discovered? or is it just a matter of him and the Postal team taking it to a more organized level?
 
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You know something, that is actually a very good question.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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he took his doping plan to another level, and the recovery program. Armstrong had the total say, and in came Bruyneel. He had more power than at Motorola, and the recovery doping had the best gear and Spanish docs attending.
 
Maybe it's just a wide combination of "best ofs". Including focus, doping, team, preparation, single minded approach and dedication. In fact almost everything that LA himself claimed except for the "giant heart" and the "magical change brought about by cancer" and then add the doping regimen.
 
Jun 18, 2009
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Mellow Velo said:
It certainly is.
For if we had the definitive answer, a million sleepless forum nights might have been avoided and the term "fanboy" banished forever"!

+1.

Excellent question by the OP. I would agree with the assessment that he changed his focus and his PEDs accordingly. The one thing that did change pre- and post-cancer, is his profile and his contacts with the pharmaceutical industry. We know he was on EPO in '99. We don't know what else he was on. It is interesting to think, however, that a lot of the drugs used as PEDs for endurance athletes were developed for use in cancer patients!
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Armstrong's 'development' from decent one day rider to all conquering GT winner fairly precisely mirrors the change in PED use from the free for all of unregulated steroid use, through the early experimentation with EPO and into the post Festina world of micro dosing and undetectable autologous blood doping.
 
May 7, 2009
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This is a great question as everyone else has said. You know, I actually decided to watch “the Science of Lance Armstrong” on the web last night (thanks BPC) and it got me thinking about all this. I would not call it “science” but rather “spin” as it was presented in that show. Everything was comparing Lance to normal people instead of other elite athletes. They made ridiculous statements that made it sound like he was from another planet. It wasn’t all that bad until the 4th segment when they interviewed Wayne Stetina about LA’s post-cancer weight loss. Stetina said LA lost 20 pounds. That conflicts with much of what I have read here. Then they interviewed LA himself about doping. His response was that A) Doping would not make much difference compared to the myriad minute details that he worked on (i.e. positioning, training, etc). This “lack of effectiveness of doping” also contradicts much of what is stated here.
and B) that is was impossible to get by the doping controls. After what we have all seen with all the riders (Kohl comes to mind along with a host of others) who got past the controls quite well for such a long time, I could not help but call BS out loud when watching.
My addition to this thread would be that one major change from pre-cancer to post-cancer LA is that after cancer, he got treated much more like some hero and therefore received much adulation and resources (financial and otherwise). He became a media darling and has cashed-in.
 
I might need some help from other people in this forum to back this up. It was said in this same forum a while back that the Cancer was dragging him down. Well, his diagnosis was for 1996. He has been winning some one day races since 1993. So I don't understand why the Cancer would have had an effect for that long.

I am just repeating what somebody said in here, and I am not sure if it bears any truth or not.

It was discussed here a while back.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Deagol, you make an interesting point about resources although Armstrong was never, from his earliest racing days, regarded as anything else but a team leader.
 
Aug 13, 2009
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East Sycamore said:
I know this topic is just begging for a troll war, but it would be nice to hear some considered answers.

I think it's generally agreed that Lance was a pretty good one-day rider before his bout with cancer and that he was unlikely to win a grand tour. Based on Betsy Andreu and others, it is has also been established that pre-cancer he was on a pretty intense regimen of EPO, HGH, Steroids, Testosterone, etc. In spite of all this doping, he was still a non-factor in the grand tours. It has also been established that he didn't really lose as much (or any) of the weight that he once claimed to lose during his fight with cancer.

So the question is, what did Lance start doing differently from 1999 on? It can't just be doping with all the same stuff he used pre-cancer because it didn't really work then (beyond winning a few stages). Was he not doing blood transfusions pre-'99 and that put him over the edge? I don't remember hearing if that was something he did pre-'99 or not. Is there something else out there he (and Ferrari) discovered? or is it just a matter of him and the Postal team taking it to a more organized level?

A timeline of Armstrong's doping may help.

Armstrong's teammate, Stephan Swart, said that Armstrong was committed to starting program of EPO in early 1995. Until then Armstrong had not finished a Tour, he dropped out both times. The EPO must have worked as in 1995 he finally finished the Tour and San Sebastian. In late 1995 Armstrong started working with Ferrari.

The change in performance after he started working with Ferrari was huge as Armstrong had his best spring yet.

Tour du Pont (overall, 4 stage wins)
La Flèche Wallonne
2nd, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
2nd, Paris-Nice

By the mid summer it was clear something was wrong and spent the next year fighting cancer.

Returning in 1998, with Ferrari's help he finishes 4th at the Vuelta.

The fact is until Armstrong started taking EPO and working with Ferrari he showed no ability to perform in GT's.
 
I think he doped prior to Ferrari, but not on the level he later did. It wasn't organised or as professional.
Frankie Andreu's comments are telling:
"God knows what happened during that winter, but Lance came back the spring of '96 and he was fri**ing huge. He looked like a linebacker. It was Holy Sh** man, he is big. Obviously we all noticed it and he knew we did. He said something about Ferrari not realising the effect the weight room was going to have...but with Lance it was more than just seeing him big. I mean, he was big, but he could now rip the cranks off the bike like never before. He was dropping everybody and anybody in training, whenever he wanted to. And at Paris Nice that spring, he was so fri**ing strong. He and Jaja (Jalabert) had this battle which ended with them finishing first and second. Lance was unbelievably strong, a totally different person."

The knowledge Ferrari has of doping cannot be underestimated. Lance was transformed after meeting him, because Ferrari knew what and when to take things. Whereas, Lance doping on his own, would've been more hit and miss, and slightly amateurish.
 
May 15, 2009
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Thing is, even if he is/was doping, I don't think his success in the GTs since is entirely down to that. There is some truth in the notion of him being a different rider since cancer whether because of artificial reasons or otherwise - or both.
 
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RhodriM said:
Thing is, even if he is/was doping, I don't think his success in the GTs since is entirely down to that. There is some truth in the notion of him being a different rider since cancer whether because of artificial reasons or otherwise - or both.

There is also a lot of truth to the notion that if he was as clean as he said he was, he wouldn't have finished top 10 in any of the Tours he won.
 
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Hugh Januss said:
That is the part of the equation that probably bothers most of us "Lance haters" the most.

Waaaaay off topic, but what is up with the fire?
 
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I don't think there is much doubt that Lance has genetic gifts that are rare. I also think that his childhood caused a fire in the belly that burns very hot.

My opinion is that he was never very focused pre-cancer. He was competitive based on natural talent and not work ethic. Imagine if Tiger Woods didn't practice much and spent much of his time in the bar instead of the gym. He'd still be damn good. Just not great.

So he gets the crap scared out of him with cancer. Unexpectedly, he recovers. He starts his career anew only to question weather he really wants to continue.

Enter Bruyneel, fantasies about winning the Tdf, an "enhanced" approach and a renewed commitment to training and voila, there you have it. My guess is they never really expected to win in 1999. Then when he did a whole new universe opened up and he became super motivated. It would not surprise me if his training methods were better than his competitors. But, at the end of the day, his doping program is what has become the difference maker.

If no one was doping he may still have won. Who knows? It sure does not change the fact that he's turned out to be an A-hole.
 
funny, as i write this there is an npr segment on steroid use in highschool football, in my home state of texas. remember, eddie b. was lances first national
coach and ran subaru/montgomery back in the day. bloodboosting was his contribution to the mix.:cool:
 
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usedtobefast said:
funny, as i write this there is an npr segment on steroid use in highschool football, in my home state of texas. remember, eddie b. was lances first national
coach and ran subaru/montgomery back in the day. bloodboosting was his contribution to the mix.:cool:

Yea, Steroid Nation indeed...
 
Aug 16, 2009
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I know BPC has discussed this somewhere else but I think it would be foolish for us to discount the psychological factors that contributed to his improvement.
We all know that young people's frontal lobes (the part of the brain that deals with decision making) doesn't fully mature until their mid 20s. That's why you're more likely to get involved in risky behaviour when you're young. For an athlete like Armstrong, who was possibly quite immature and hot headed as a younger rider, perhaps because of a disrupted childhood, this process would have been very important for his success. Together with the cancer experience and its quite reasonable to expect an effect on his performances.

Simply, he was more mature and more able to deal with the pressures of being one of the worlds greatest cyclists.
 
Aug 16, 2009
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Scott SoCal said:
I don't think there is much doubt that Lance has genetic gifts that are rare. I also think that his childhood caused a fire in the belly that burns very hot.

My opinion is that he was never very focused pre-cancer. He was competitive based on natural talent and not work ethic. Imagine if Tiger Woods didn't practice much and spent much of his time in the bar instead of the gym. He'd still be damn good. Just not great.

So he gets the crap scared out of him with cancer. Unexpectedly, he recovers. He starts his career anew only to question weather he really wants to continue.

Looks like you're agreeing with me today. Best not to side with the trolls anyway.
 
Jul 24, 2009
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Thoughtforfood said:
There is also a lot of truth to the notion that if he was as clean as he said he was, he wouldn't have finished top 10 in any of the Tours he won.

This might be true or it might not. But it's so hypothetical that nobody really has a clue. I've spent a lot of time trying to work out how good Lance would have been, in some paralell universe, as a "clean" rider. You can speculate day, but there's just no way of knowing. In my opinion we're better off to focus on things we can work out like the actual mechanics of doping.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Really, what did change and what didn't change?

Pros
- Focus on a single race post-cancer
- Team focused on him winning that single race post-cancer
- Known association with Dr. Ferrari
- Known EPO positives in the 1999 TdF

Cons
- Body weight: no difference
- Percentage body fat: no difference
- Power-to-weight ratio: up to a 2% improvement compared to 1993
- Efficiency: 8% improvement compared to 1993 (typical and no different to other professionals)
- Unremarkable VO2 max for a GT contender
- Psychologically: no difference, he is still as driven, committed and immature now as he was pre-cancer

Physiologically, he does not have the data to win a TdF and nor were there any changes in this data to explain the change in his performance post-cancer. Psychologically, he definitely has a champion's attitude, he was focused on the TdF as was his team, but this is really no different to many other team leaders. Lance doesn't have the license on the will to win within the professional peloton. So what is the real difference? Ferrari and EPO are the only two factors when you break it down from the known pros and cons.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Escarabajo said:
I might need some help from other people in this forum to back this up. It was said in this same forum a while back that the Cancer was dragging him down. Well, his diagnosis was for 1996. He has been winning some one day races since 1993. So I don't understand why the Cancer would have had an effect for that long.

And if he did have testicular cancer for 1+ years, then his HCG levels would have been above the reference range for every single doping test during this time period.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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To widen the discussion, let's not forget the 'post hoc ergo propter' (After this, therefore, because of this) fallacy.

The fact that he was diagnosed with testicular cancer does not mean that it caused him to turn into the 7 time TdF winner.

The discussion often boils down to this 'artificially' chosen point in time, fed by his own accounts that it made him stronger, more dedicated and lighter (?), that served an obvious narrative reason. The Phoenix reborn from the ashes.

Perhaps he was already intent on preparing (in the widest sense) for the TdF - in the US commonly seen as the only cycling event that really matters - and it was inconveniently interrupted by cancer. Perhaps, after he was cured, he changed nothing much but continued on the same path he was on before.
 

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